Sunday, October 28, 2012

Jungle Time!

Marco and I took a wonderful 2 day vacation to the jungle of Peru via Puerto Maldonado a week and a half ago. It was fantastic and HOT! There definitely weren't as many mosquitoes as I thought there would be and it wasn't as humid as I thought it was going to be. Score!

We took an overnight bus (MovilTour) to Puerto Maldonado and then hung out all morning in the town before taking a boat ride to the lodge. The morning was kind of boring since we got in around 7am and didn't have anything to do but sit around and wait for 12pm to come around. I have to tell you that if you ever go to Puerto Maldonando, don't stay there more than a morning. There is absolutely nothing to do. The one good thing that did keep us somewhat entertained was the salute to the flag in which all the armed forces were represented (army, navy, air force and Senasa, the municipality security made up of mostly ex-military folk). We also found a nice deli to sit in and watch in the shade. There was a parade afterward in which two bands played including a student band that played "Happy Birthday" over and over and over. Delightful.... haha how embarrassing for the military men marching.

Our boat ride was an hour and twenty minutes to the EcoAmazonia lodge. On the way we heard a family talking in a language that sounded like German and English but ended up being Afrikaans because they were from South Africa. Pretty sweet.

When we go to the lodge they served us a delicious drink from a native fruit that I forgot the name of. I wanted more. We were given lunch and our bungalow called "Tarantula". Fortunately, I saw no tarantulas in my bungalow, only on the boat ride the next day. 

In the afternoon we headed to the Monkey Island across the river and saw tons of Capuchin monkeys as well as one super friendly spider monkey female who wanted nothing more than to drink my gatorade. Seriously, she came down and got on everyone's shoulders so she could get a hold of it. Don't believe me? Check out the pic!


To be fair, the guide did warn us that she liked waterbottles. It's so cool how their tails are an extra leg or arm. She got on top of me too but not before grabbing my arm. It is so human-like, it's crazy. All the monkeys were rescued from bad owners and given this island that is owned by the EcoAmazonia Lodge. A funny thing that happened while on the island is that I ran into a friend of mine Richard, who is now a guide for Tucan Travel. He used to bartend at the Lost City, a local hangout for all the Maximo teachers while I was still teaching English. What a small world and what crazy odds!

In the evening we had a delicious buffet dinner and Marco and I passed out nice and early around 10pm. The is also when the power goes out. The lodge only uses electricity between 5 and 10pm daily so we had to make good use of the fan in the room during that time. 

The following day we took a nice look hike to a little river, steam that we then paddled down before walking more to the Apuvictor lake lookout spot. It was a lot of hiking and it was quite humid. We made the best of it though. We passed trees that are considered the be telephones because when you hit them they echo up to a kilometer away. We also passed trees that smell like onion and are apparently helpful when one has a cold. The boat ride was nice because Marco and I did absolutely no rowing. We were with Richard's Tucan group so they did all the work. Haha it was great! 

We saw a turtle and quite a few monkeys during trek as well but we were both extremely happy to get back to the lodge and the swimming pool. We did nothing but hop in and out of the pool all afternoon and it is exactly what we needed and wanted.  Before the pool though, we went to a lookout and as you can see I was ready to dunk myself in an unheated cool almost chilly pool.

Ahhhh we made it to the pool! :) 

That evening we shared a bottle of wine at the hammock deck that looked out over the river. We never got around to taking a picture of it but it was a glorious spot and it there had been fans over the hammocks it might have been the best place in the entire world to take a nap. We took one there anyway in the afternoon. 

On Tuesday morning we got up nice and early, had a delicious pancake breakfast before heading back to Puerto Maldonado for our bus ride home to Cusco. It was a glorious vacation and so relaxing. I am super thankful to my bandmate Fernando for hooking us up with a 20% discount on the lodge. Two and a half days in Puerto were perfect. We were ready to get back to the fresh and cooler/dry climate of Cusco after so much humidity. Marco sweats like crazy so I know he was happy to be back. 

Happy couple on the boat ride back to Puerto!

Monday, October 22, 2012

Civil Wedding in Cusco

I debated posting about our civil marriage but then I had to think about why? I am not trying to hide anything from anyone. All of my close family and friends know about it already and if it deters anyone from coming to the religious wedding next year then that is a bummer for whoever decides not to come because I am technically already married. So here we go! This is my civil wedding story!

On Friday the 12th of October Marco and I got up around 8am and started getting ready for our 11am ceremony. My best friend here is Cusco, Emily came over to help me get ready at 9:30am. Marco left early to make sure everything was in order at the municipality so that we didn't get any surprises that would keep us from being able to get married. My something old were my shoes, something blue my dress, something new my undies and something borrowed earrings from Emily. The something old could have also been my dress since I bought it at a thrift store in Evanston for $30. It was also my second time wearing it to a wedding. :)

We got to the municipality to find that they were a little behind with the ceremony before us but it was alright. We waited along with Emily, Claudio and Flor, who were our witnesses. The room was perfect and really pretty. It had lots of carved wood in it and made for a nice spot for our nuptials. The general boss of the civil registry presided over us and read out of the articles for marriage for the Municipality of Santiago. Emily video-taped the entire thing. (Don't worry fam, I am working on getting it to you guys soon!) It was short and sweet and she talked about how sharing a life together means cooperation, communication, and not that one is more powerful than the other. It is a partnership and we must always respect one another. I couldn't agree more. Marco and I then exchanged our own vows which apparently isn't as common here as it is in the States. Marco was a bit surprised to hear about saying one's own vows but he did it so eloquently. I know he practiced because his delivery was great. :) Always that perfectionist. I love it. We signed the papers and put two fingerprints next to each signature (a little ridiculous but, hey, whatever works!). Oh! I almost forgot, Marco's two promociones (graduating classmates from the military school) made it a little late but got there nonetheless. He wasn't expecting them to but it was really nice and I know it made Marco happy to have some of his peeps there as well.

After the ceremony, we headed to Dragon's Palate for a beautiful lunch with Claudio, Emily and Flor. Elena, put out place mats and had a beautiful bouquet of daisys and roses for us. It was so nice. We had a great filling meal topped off with ice cream from El Hada, an artesan ice cream shop next to the restaurant. It was great! We also had the treat of listening to jazz music by two guitarist and a saxophonist/flutist from Spain. It was great. It started to rain but only after we had finished eating. Perfect timing.

Marco and I made out way up to Qantu to pick up a gift that the teachers gave to us. It turned out to be a set of Cusqueñan dishware. What a great gift! We still need to write a thank you letter. When we got home we got into our pjs and watched the Peru vs. Bolivia game. They tied. It was great and relaxing. We took a nap and then got up to go to dinner at Uchu, my friend Elizabeth and Erik's (another American/Peruvian married couple. Come to think of it all the places we went to eat and drink are places owned by American and Peruvian couples..haha that's great!). It was delicious and the portions were small which was perfect since we were still pretty full from lunch.

To end the night we headed to Chops, a bar owned by my friends Akhtiara and Jimmy. One of Marco's technicians came out and so did Flor, Claudio, Emily, and Melissa. It was small but nice. We ended up dancing at Inka Team for a little while before heading home at 12:30am.

Overall, it was a FANTASTIC day! I highly recommend to anyone getting married that you first have a wedding for yourselves and then have a big wedding for everyone else. It was probably one of the least stressful days of my life and that is exactly how it should be. It's about being with the person who you want to spend the rest of your life with. I am not saying that it's not important for there to be family and friends around because that would have been great but given the circumstances we took full advantage of having the day to ourselves and not having to worry if everyone was happy and taken care of expect ourselves. This means that for my religious wedding next year I am all about stressing about my guests and family because while it is our wedding it's for everyone invited too!